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CROCODILE RANCH OTJIWARONGO NAMIBIA: If you want to learn a bit about crocodiles and get close up for some nice photos of Crocs and their young, this is the place for you.

 

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Nile Crocodile Ranch Otjiwarongo

 

 

Nile Crocodile eye.

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Nile Crocodile Crocodylus Niloticus

Nile Crocodile ( Crocodylus niloticus )

 

 

Nile Crocodiles in Namibia

If you want to learn a bit about crocodiles and get close up for some nice photos of Crocs and their young, this is the place for you. The Otjiwarongo Croc Ranch has recently been given a face lift and the new owners are quite serious about crocs. The Ranch presently has 40 females and 6 males as breeding stock, plus plenty of satisfied growing youngsters all under 2 years of age. There's a small, but pleasant restaurant where you can relax and enjoy a traditional meal, or where the more adventurous gourmet could begin with a Crocodile Cocktail and follow on with a nice big juicy Croc Steak. Regular consignments of frozen Croc meat are shipped out to many of Namibia restaurants, and you can even buy frozen Croc Steaks at the Ranch shop.

 

Open Hours: 09h00 - 17h00

Entrance fee: N$20.00

 

Nile Crocodiles And The Triassic Connection:

Crocodiles are Archosaurs which means 'Ruling Reptile'. The Archosaurs were the dominant life-form during the Mesozoic Era.(250 million to 65 million years ago). The Crocodilia were a highly developed species of reptile long before the arrival of the Dinosaurs, or even flowering plants evolved. Their survival has seen them overcome the earth's on-going climate changes and cataclysms that over time has driven many other species to extinction. The Nile Crocodile, as we know it, has been around from the early Miocene Epoch (nearly 24 million years). There's still a lot we can learn from these most efficiently designed creatures. They have an unusually high resistance to infections and are able to produce within their own blood system an extremely effective and highly resistant anti-biotic.

 

Entrance to the Ranch

Entrance to the Ranch

Nile Crocodile Skull

Receptionist ?

Nile Crocodile Lower Jaw 4th tooth

Lower jaw 4th tooth

Young Nile Crocodiles in rearing pens

Young in rearing pens

 

Nile Crocodile Distribution:

The Nile Crocodile is widely distributed throughout Africa, but more so in Central and West Africa where it is estimated that about two-thirds of the continent's crocodiles live. It is thought that there are between 250,000 to 500,000 living in the wild in Africa's fresh water marshes, lakes and rivers. They can be found in: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo and DRC, Egypt, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Mauritania, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and  Zimbabwe.

 

The Design Features:

Nile Crocodiles usually grow to about 5 meters (16.4ft) in length. A fully mature male can weigh 700kg (1,500lb). However, there are known cases of them reaching 6m (19.7ft) in length.

 

The skin of the young is quite brightly marked as can be seen below in the photos. The colours change as the juveniles reach maturity. The adult skin is scaled and grey brown in colour having yellow patches making for extremely good camouflage.  They have  four short legs with clawed feet. Crocodiles usually crawl, but can raise up and sprint for short bursts of up to 14km/hr (8.7mph). The long powerful tail can propel them through water up to similar speeds, but for much longer duration. The tail is also used for steering and for 'barrel rolling' when twisting and drowning their prey. There are two rows of horney scales (ossified scutes) that run along the back and well onto the tail section where they converge forming a single row.

 

Crocodile's nostrils, eyes and 'ears' are situated on the top of the head which allows their bodies to be submerged, and virtually hidden, while they stealthily approach their prey undetected.

 

Their  eyes have vertical pupils that open wide in low light allowing them to be good night-hunters. They have tear glands for cleansing and a nicitating membrane that slides over the eye for protection. Crocodiles have excellent hearing ability.

 

Unlike other present day reptiles, Crocodiles have an efficient four-chambered heart, similar in operation to that of mammals and birds. Their normal dive period is only for a few minutes, but when threatened they can stay submerged for 30 minutes and even up to 2 hours while going inactive which lowers their metabolism. They are cold blooded ( ectothermic ) and sun-bathe to raise their temperature and lay in shade or water to cool down.

 

Crocodiles are Thecodonts having between 64 to 68 conical shaped teeth. The upper jaw ( Maxilla ) has 10 frontal ( Premaxilla ) teeth and further 13 or 14 rear teeth on either side. The lower jaw ( Mandible ) has the remaining 14 or 15 teeth on either side. The 4th tooth of the lower jaw fits neatly into a 'pit' in the upper jaw and remains visible when the mouth is closed.

 

Their extremely strong jaws are designed for crushing, but once closed do not require much force to hold them shut. They have no tongue, instead  having a gular throat pouch that when activated blocks water, so they can chew their food while submerged.

 

Crocodiles are thought to live to the age of about 70 years.

 

Reproduction:

Under normal conditions males become sexually mature when they reach a length of about 3m (10ft) and females at about 2 to 2.5m (6.5 to 8ft).Given normal conditions this length can be achieved in about 10 years. Egg laying takes place 2 months after mating. Nesting takes place in November or December. In north Africa this is the dry season, while south of the equator it is the rainy season. The females lay clutches of between 25 to 70 eggs in nests about 2m from the water's edge and 500mm (20") deep in the sandy river or lake banks. The average clutch is about 50 eggs of which the mother guards for the incubation period of 3 months. The male crocodile will often stay quite close by and both parents will attack any would be intruders. Their are times when the parents do have to leave the nesting area to cool down and this is the time when nests can be raided by monitor lizards, small animals and even humans.

 

The sex of a Nile Crocodile is subject to Temperature Sex Determination ( TSD ). This means the sex of a hatchling is determined by temperature and not genetics. During the middle of the third period of incubation - if the temperature of the nest remains within the 3 degree Celsius zone of 31.7 to 34.5 (89.1F to 94.1F) the result will be Male. Should the nest temperature fall either below or rise above this zone the result will be Female.

 

Hatchlings are about 30cm (1ft) in length. They will stay with their mother for about 2 years at which time they will have grown to about 1.2m (4ft). Now large enough to hunt and defend themselves they will establish new territorial areas away from and without disturbing the older and lager crocodiles.

 

Crocodile Eating Habits:

Crocodiles can eat up to half of their body weight, and then go for long periods without eating.  They are not too choosey about their diet which can include: amphibians, aquatic invertebrates, birds, carrion, fish, mammals, reptiles and people.

 

Acknowledgements and further reading:     W1, W3

Otjiowarongo Area Attractions and Articles of Similar Interest

Otjiwarongo

Herero Uprising

Battle Otjihaenamaparero

Dinosaur Tracks

Accommodation

Battle of Waterberg

Heroes Acre Memorial

Geological Survey Museum

Map Directions

Of Interest: The name Crocodile, or crocodylus comes from the Greek krokodeilos. A word that literally translated: kroko = pebble, and deilos = worm, or man. Who would have guessed that a creature so big could be called a Pebble-Worm ?

The ancient Egyptians worshipped and even mummified the Nile Crocodile. They called their crocodile god Sobek.

The Australian salt-water crocodile often reaches 6m in length and can weigh well over 2 tons.

 
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